Manhunt — 10 Movies in 10 Days: TIFF 2017 Review

The Mob’s Reel has been gracious enough to host Mobster, Curtis Morgan's TIFF 2017 review. As an actor and film buff, Curtis braved this years red carpet to bring you spoiler-free reviews on the 10 films he saw at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.


When you think John Woo, one tends to think of great action films like Face/Off, Mission: Impossible II, and Broken Arrow.  As full of amazing action and gun-play that these films are, there tends to always be an element of the absurd.  That is not rare in action films, some of the best ones have an over-the-top quality.  With John Woo films, however, the absurdity of them is not what you remember, it is the action sequences and the performances that usually stay with you.  As a matter of fact, when it’s done well audiences can easily accept a notion like human face-swapping as if it was an actual medical possibility.

This delicate weaving of the absurd into his films was a talent of John Woo’s which he has abandoned for what he calls his return to his classic style in his new feature film, Manhunt.  The film starts well with an opening sequence that features two undercover, yet deadly female assassins.  That scene was the first time you see classic John Woo, beautiful choreographed, craftily executed.  It garnered applause from the audience.

The film centers around a seemingly typical frame-up of the main character who is a good guy lawyer who may have a past that he is not proud of and who happens to be in league with a shady pharmaceutical company owner… I think.  I say that because this movie is literally all over the place for the full run time.  The characters in the movie are motivated by a premise of sinister intent that is revealed to be just coincidence (wrong place at the wrong time) by the end of this film.  Throughout, there are cliched movie devices utilized for cheap thrills and an unnecessary super-human element is employed, seemingly out of nowhere for no reason, in a plot that you realize is occurring as a result of unfortunate timing and nothing else.  Sounds confusing?  That’s because it is.

John Woo is 71.  How many 71 year old’s do you see driving Maseratis on the highway at 150 km/h?  Not many.  There’s a reason for that.  I’m not being ageist at all here, but I did often times, while watching Manhunt, wonder if John Woo was experiencing some senility.  The film lacked direction, the dialogue was atrocious, the acting was horrible, the characters weren’t even two dimensional, they were one.  The absurdity of the plot and dialogue (which garnered many unwarranted laughs from the audience) wildly overshadowed any of the mostly mediocre action sequences that we’ve seen before in one form or another.  Out of all the TIFF films I’ve seen in the last few years, this was one of the worst.  The kind of film that avid John Woo fans, unlike myself, were visibly shaking their heads at as we left the theatre.  Avoid.

Manhunt gets 1.5/5 stars.

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